Phangan Reptile Rescue News

 

Cute Madhuawan princess 10 04 18

This little sub adult princess, a 2.9m female King Cobra (Ophiophagus Hannah) I’ve rescued with my friends at Koh Phangan Rescue Volunteer : อาสาสมััครกู้ภัยเกาะพะงัน recently.

We had to disturb her while she had dinner in front of somebody’s door step. On the menu: A fresh adult Naja Kaouthia (Monocled Cobra) aprox 1.2 meter.

People, especially snake entusiasts, always tell me… wow, what a great job you have. You live your passion. I would live my passion, if I could just observe and admire these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat. Unfortunately their habitat gets less and less, and I have to catch them, and find a safe place, where I can release them close to the house, where I’ve caught them.

Actually it’s less dangerous to catch a deadly venomous King Cobra, than to get caught by the landlords, while I’m releasing one on their land again. I always try to release them within their familiar territory. In case of females this familiar homerange can be pretty small, compared to territories of a male King Cobra. But yet we got just research results of King Cobras on the mainland by SARS under Romolus Whitaker and Gowri Shankar in India, or SERS under Colin Thomas Strine and Bartosz Nardolski in Thailand. Nobody has ever done radiotelemetry research on small islands, like Phangan. But I presume, there wont be much difference. I can just say… We have much more encounters on the island. I can’t tell you, if we have more King Cobras, or if we have just more humans compressed on limited space of a small island, who steal their habitat. We will hopefully find out soon.

Howsoever… I found a dirt track up a hill maybe 200 meter far away from the place where I’ve caught it. In the video you can see, that the little princess had her own idea, in which direction she should go. I tried to convince her to go the opposite direction. I hope she knows, how to avoid the locals in this area now. Should I hear from her again, I’ll let you know. Lets cross the finger! She was really cute!

My neighbors host a cobra!

Another proof, that we can coexist with cobras. This first yearling Monocled Cobra (Naja Kaouthia) was hiding in Dani and Katerina’s living room since 2 days, and didn’t harm anyone. I’ve released it in our garden, where it found shelter under a rock, and made a Tokay homeless. I’m sorry for the Tokay. But he can come to our house, if he likes. 

Thanks to our adorable jazz singer Katerina and Dani from Breeze Kiteboarding for calling me to rescue the little youngster. And thanks to Katerina for sharing this video. 

 

Chunky Kaouthia from Hin Kong

This 1.41 m long and pretty chunky Monocled Cobra girl with almost no monocle I’ve picked up in Hinkong. It was also surrounded by a bunch of owned dogs. The owner got managed to secure her, and rescue dogs and snake in the same time by lifting it up with a long bamboo, and drop it into a water tank. I just had to jump into the tank, and lift it in my box. It was in the early molt. The eyes started to get opaque. I had to wait for the eyes to be clear pretty long. Today after the rain we said good bye to each other in her old territory.

 

Release of a handsome Monocled Cobra Female

This impressive female I’ve rescued in Chaloklum near the temple. I got the call from a nice couple. They didn’t want to kill it, and were worried, that the dogs would go after her. So they locked the dogs in, and called me immediately. The Cobra was hiding between a rice bag and a wall of the basement. She was very calm. I just had to put a PVC pipe with snake bag attached from one side, and tickle her out from the other side. She went straight into the bag.

With 1.63m length, and 3,24 cm in diameter she was the biggest Kauthia I’ve caught alive on Phangan so far. Gorgeous♥

 

Another young King Cobra Female in Maduawan

If my friend Rong calls me, my heart starts beating every time. With good reason!

If he calls me in the night, it can just be something really big. Or something big and really venomous.
It’s often for the King of Serpents. Ophiophagus Hannah (The Snake Eater) well known under it’s name King Cobra.
This time we had to interrupt a King while it had his well earned dinner. An adult Monocled Cobra. It had a full stomach. But the mouth was already empty enough for a strike in defense. But it didn’t make use of it. It was one of my quickest King Cobra rescues ever.

One thing made me really happy! After I’ve done the rescue job, someone called my name, and pointed on his foot. I knew immediately, who he was, without knowing him. It was the young brave man, who got bitten by an adult female Monocled Cobra a few months back. My friend Rong called me to catch the culprit. And Nnh got rescued by my friends of Koh Phangan Rescue Volunteer : อาสาสมััครกู้ภัยเกาะพะงัน, He got his antivenom approx one hour later, because he thought he’s gonna be fine without. 1 Hour is actually a long time in case of Monocled Cobra venom. His bite site got necrotic in the next morning, and the Phangan Hospital had to transfer him to Samui, where the specialists did a few skin transplantations. The first layers of skin got necrotic too. In the end they had to use artificial grown skin, to close the wound. And obviously they did a great job. His foot looked pretty good. Of course he got a scar. But he assured me he’s well, and can use his foot normal again. He was not even angry at the Cobra, who has bitten him. That was so good to hear. Nnh was by the way the brave man, who’s shot the video tonight.

Thanks to Nnh, his friends and his family. And also to Rong, Boy and the rest of the Koh Phangan Rescue and Volunteer team!

I love you guys!

Water Monitor Lizard Rocky survives idiot attack!

On this morning I was sooo hoping, that I don’t get another call out. It’s been crazy since a few weeks. Every day mails of people, who’ve witnessed humans, dogs, cats or all together killing cobras, or just harmless snakes and monitor lizards. In one week an average of 7 reptiles get killed in the moment. I get maybe chance to save lives of 3 reptiles in the same duration. After treating, nursing or processing I release them in order to let them get hurt, if not even killed again. But that’s obviously part of this Sisyphus Job. Never mind!

Bella, an american expat called me from Chaloklum, the northern part of our island. She witnessed locals beating and stoning this handsome semi-adult Varanus Salvator. An Asian Water Monitor Lizard. Bella was so kind to wait on site until I showed up. The monitor got somehow managed to carry his 5 -6 kg body weight down into the creek under a rock, where I had to fight against red ants to get him out of his rocky shelter (That’s why “Rocky”) He got a few bruises on his neck and along it’s spine, and a very bad fracture in the Tibia and Fibula (the lower leg bones) of his right back leg. They’re broken above the ankle.

Unfortunately we don’t have a vet clinic, which is equipped to fix fractures. X-Ray is also a luxury, which we can’t afford. But my friends at Dr. Jeep’s pet clinic asked in one of our human hospitals, and they made an exception, as you can see on the image below. In the moment I’m waiting for reply of a wildlife vet team in the north of Thailand. They got the images, and will discuss, if we can do a surgery on Rocky’s leg here on Phangan. Lets cross the fingers, that I get positive reply, and more important… that we can make him be able to run and live in the wild again. Right now he can just pull his leg behind. With this leg he is pretty handicapped in situations like that ugly one today.

Howsoever… In the meanwhile my friends at PACS PhaNgan Animal Care helped me to prepare our big nursing terrarium. And Lucy, our vet nurse figured out the best medical treatment for him.
Thank you so much guys! You’re amazing!

Also thanks to Bella for calling me, and Hinch, who helped me to put the monitor in a sack. He is also the first person, who got managed to open the back door of my car. Well done mate! For that I will come to the opening of your new bar. 

And big thanks to Bella and Lucy again for sharing these nice images! 

By the way… if you want to visit Rocky, and even leave a donation at PACS, please be aware, that he is a wild animal. He is not used to be watched like animals in a zoo. If you approach him too quickly, or surround him with many people, you will freeeak him out, and he will injure himself even more. Approach him slowly one after another. Don’t stare in his eyes longer, than a few seconds. This kind of behavior he will rather recognize as a threat, than as a friendly and curious act. Thank you!

 

Another dog bite victim!

This little boy here, a semi adult Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus Salvator) was lucky. A young couple noticed the dog attack, and was so kind to call me. They even waited on site, and watched the little fella in order to protect him from another dog attack. He got just some cuts from the dog fangs. And certainly he was under shock. I’ve cleaned the wounds with Betadyne first. But he got one contusion, a pocket with wound secretion under the skin. I’ll puncture the pocket with a sterile needle tomorrow, to release the wound secretion tomorrow. After that I can just observe the wounds a few days, and hope he doesn’t get a sepsis by the bacteria in the dog saliva. In that case I would need to treat him with antibiotics.

But I’m optimistic. He looks well nourished. He is gonna make it.

It’s just a pity, that other wildlife animals are not so lucky. It’s very tiring in the moment. I get messages about killed wildlife at least every second day. Mostly killed by dogs and cats.

These are the days, when I hate my job.

Two adult female Naja Kaouthias (Monocled Cobras). One even with for Phangan record-breaking size. Unfortunately the head wasn’t recognizable anymore. It was difficult to measure it exactly. But it must have had approx 1.64 meter length.

Again… dogs were involved, and the owners came too late, or didn’t know how to avoid the fight. It could’ve end deadly for the dogs ether. Or at least they could’ve been blind. Therefore I need to figure out an easy method for dog owners, to stop their dogs from attacking the snake. Cobras usually don’t attack. They just strike in defense, if the enemy comes too close. And that’s what dogs often do, as you can see on these images. I hope I didn’t spoil your appetite. But now you maybe understand, how I feel.

Anyway… We can’t blame the owners, if cobras appear in their on purpose fenced garden. I’ll try to make a tutorial with one of the next rescued Kaouthias, how to rescue the snake gently, in order to rescue the dog as well.

 

Ben, an expat on our island, who called me for rescue, also sent me this short video clip. I think it’s a good demonstration, how aggressive cobras really are…not!…

Note! We don’t want to grab the cobra around her neck, unless we need to milk it for it’s venom.
Serious conservationists don’t pose around with snakes in neck grip.

And we don’t want to grab the snake on it’s tail, because it’s not the strongest body part in case of Cobras or other elapids. They could get hurt. Of course, if we cause them pain, they will always try to defend themselves. They’re scared to death, and just want to survive. Therefore it’s better to hold them around the abdomen, and support them with hook. And again we will notice… no hooding, and no hissing. The cobra just wants to get back into the box, to find safe shelter.

But please!!! Don’t try that without experience. I just wanted to show you, how calm cobras are, if didn’t get harmed before. Of course there are also individuals, that freak out. Especially after they got attacked by our dogs.

Last night I got a call to relocate a young scared warrior.

It was a semi-adult King Cobra! Maybe, if you understand a bit Thai, you’ve noticed…In the video they talk about 4 meter length. Another example how people over estimate size of snakes. It happens in 99% of all my rescue cases. I didn’t have the chance to measure it (I guess it’s a she), but I would guess something above 2.20m. Still a half sized princess. But young King Cobras are pretty deft instead. Doesn’t matter what size… For me they are always impressive snakes. To be honest… I was also not in a fresh condition, and in Sunday evening relax mode. That means in horizontal position on the sofa, with the 2. glass of wine. That fact made me a bit nervous. Of course the little girl was fighting for her freedom. But in the end after peeing on me all over my pants she was actually quite cooperative. Big thanks to my friends Narung, Boy and the Phangan Rescue Team, the family which called us for rescue, and ether big thanks to Piyanun for sharing this video.

You’re all awesome! 

 

YOU CAN HELP!

“Save Cobra and Co.” is my personal  fundraising campaign for the service of helping reptiles and the island community. By donating you can help me to treat and nurse injured snakes, lizards and turtles, and release them back to their familiar territory. Also you can help me to fund printing of info brochures or posters for schools or our local island communities.

https://www.generosity.com/animal-pet-fundraising/save-cobra-and-co?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=stale_fundraiser_todo_items

“Save People, Save Snakes” is the great sister campaign of my friend and future collaboration partner Bartosz Nardolski and his already successfully operating Sakaerat Naja Project team. This campaign funds the bigger picture.

By sending donations you can support our common cobra research project on Phangan and Sakaerat, which aims on gaining knowledge about lifestyle, movement patterns and habits of cobras, and spread this knowledge in the island community, or even to countries, that have same issues with other cobras of the genus Naja. That way we can find out ways to prevent bite accidents and to coexist with these beautiful creatures in the future.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-people-save-snakes#/

Here you get straight to the Naja Project campaign video, to introduce you to our team. On youtube you can choose between 13 or more subtitles.

By donating our projects you can make a huge difference.

Thanks to all true wildlife lovers!!!

 

KING OF PIRATES

Actually I wanted to relax one night before I had border bounce. But sometimes we don’t have a choice. Especially not, if I get a distress call of my friends Narung and Boy from Koh Phangan Rescue Volunteer : อาสาสมััครกู้ภัยเกาะพะงัน.

It was an almost 3 meter and approx 8 kg majesty. A beautiful King Cobra (Ophiophagus Hannah). in the area around Jack Bar in Haad Salat.

First I had to calm down the crowd in front of the storage room. The King was hiding behind a matress. The snake was very alert by the nervous crowd. I didn’t necessarily want to handle it. So I’ve blocked one side of the mattress with the snake bagger, and tried to push it into the bag. Unfortunately it tried to escape over the snake bagger, and climbed up the wall. I couldn’t grab the tail. When I went to the other side, to prevent the king from escaping, the king shot to the other side immediately, and found another hole to escape. I ran outside, where dogs started to bark at me, while the King was sliding through their legs. I thought “That’s it” for one of the dogs. But the Snake was too busy with escaping. Outside in the garden with the “catching-butterflies-method” it was almost too easy. I followed the King along the wall, blocked the way with the snake bagger, and the King appreciated the dark entrance of the bag, and disappeared inside. Mission accomplished. Snake and humans are safe, and nobody got hurt. I’ll try to get better closeup images of the King Cobra on it’s release. Thanks to my friends Rung, Boy and the Rescue Volunteer team, the owners of the restaurant for calling us instead of killing the King, the King Cobra itself for being so cooperative in the end, and also big thanks to my girlfriend. She got even one shot of the snake. hahaaa… It was really not an easy job. Not even for a professional photographer.

We are on the right way!

On this side I blocked the way with the snake bag.

Peekaboo!

Peekaboo yourself

Zoomed in

Bloody hell, bpai nai? It escapes into the garden

Silly dogs bark at me, and don’t notice the snake between their legs. I get you, I get you….

Got ya! Snake in the bag…

…twisting the opening of the bag, detaching the handle… Bartosz, I love your snake bagger. Works awesome!

…Everybody excited… 

Saving the bag with a knot…

Finished!

He could at least pretend, to be the snake catcher for his family album. 

A bit education to the locals

Staff is relieved and happy.

 First scaling, and then temporary in a bigger box until weekend.

 

Sorry guys!

I know you haven’t heard from me for quite a while.

One reason is: I’m just one person, I got more work, and got a bit lazy to update my homepage. I hope you can forgive me.

Another reason was: My only digicam broke, and I couldn’t make any good shots.

Since last time many things have changed. In my last post I told you about my new friends of the Naja Research Project at SERS, the Sakaerat Environmental Research Station. In the meanwhile I visited Bartosz, the leader and founder of the cobra research team in Nakhon Ratchasima. Unfortunately I had just 2 weeks time. But this short time was really amazing for me. I learned a lot of interesting stuff, how to track cobras by radio telemetry, and how to process rescued snakes for research data collection on our beloved island. The new gained knowledge is very interesting. It helped me to understand more about our hooded friends, and it will also help me to convince our locals, that we can coexist with Cobras. Here you can watch some impressions captured with my old Canon point and shoot cam…

Bartosz and his team also introduced me to a better method, to catch venomous snakes more gently, and stressless for human and snake. Romulus Whitaker and Ajay Giri have just released this new fantastic video, to show all serious snake rescuers, how to do snake relocation properly.

 

Since this time my work has changed a little bit, because apart from treating injured reptiles I don’t just catch and release them. I also frequently process snakes, especially Cobras now.

After taking measurements, DNA samples and determining the sex under anesthesia, of course we wake them up again and release them back to their old familiar territory.

 

Here some shots of my rescued cuteys.

An above 2.2 meter female King Cobra (Ophiophagus Hannah) caught in a resort restaurant kitchen in Hin Khong area. I had to get her out of a gas oven housing. First I tried to get it out by banging on the housing. But of course it got just more scared. I waited half’n hour, but it still didn’t want to leave the housing. So I started to dismantle it. It was completely coiled around some cables and gas pipes. The only way to make it quickly was, to grab the head, and tickle it out. That worked!

Ready for her release!

 

A with above 1 meter little male caught in a glue trap. After removing the glue, processing and shedding the old skin he was free to go.

A beautiful with above 1.4 meter for Phangan circumstances big and strong female caught in the house of my neighbor landlord. We probably shared this one for quite a while. I’ve seen it in our garden once, because our dogs started barking. I’ve also processed her, and released in the little forest, which is bordering on our garden.